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CAMBRIA/SOMERSET COUNTY— A program geared towards making a difference in teenagers’ lives along with cleaning up the environment is making waves in the film community.

Ian Smith, program coordinator of First Waves, said they have finished editing the movie that was created by local teens, and plan to release it at an upcoming event.

“The film is done. Everything went wonderfully and we worked really hard on it,” said Smith. “First Waves and the Benscreek Canoe Club are celebrating the 2015 success of First Waves Johnstown with an outdoor film screening of “River of Change” and free paddleboarding and river surfing lessons at the 2016 Stonycreek Rendezvous. We really hope a lot of people will come out to join us.”

Smith said he also hopes the release of the film will generate new mentors for the program and highlight the hard work the students put into the program.

“There is such a change in these kids before and after they start the program,” said Smith. “Not only do they have a great time learning how to paddleboard but they’re cleaning up the environment, learning about it, and becoming more confident in themselves.”

The program was made possible thanks to a grant through the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies’ Community Initiatives Fund.

“We heard great things about the work that First Waves was doing with kids in Pittsburgh. They were actually bringing kids from Allegheny County here to Greenhouse Park because they realize what an incredible natural resource it is. So when they approached us about a program for kids in Johnstown, we were happy to connect them with local partners,” said Angie Berzonski, Foundation Program & Communications Officer. “It’s impressive that it makes a difference on so many levels: matching kids with mentors; improving their self-confidence by taking them out of their comfort zone to learn new skills; teaching them to appreciate and care for our rivers; and  teaching them interview, communication, and filmmaking skills.”

“Without the grant from the Foundation, this project and video would not have been possible,” said Smith.

To find out more about First Waves, click SURFSUP. To watch the 2015 movie debut, click on River of Change.

To learn more about grantmaking through the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, please click on grants.


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